Milk workers win pay rise

A group of maintenance workers at the National Foods milk processing plant in Chelsea Heights has won a 21% pay rise after having been on strike for three and a half weeks from late July. They will resume work on August 17.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) members initiated protected strike action after enterprise bargaining negotiations with the company stalled. The unions had been trying to negotiate a new enterprise agreement with National Foods for two years.

ETU spokesperson Phil Cleary told the August 11 Mordialloc Leader that National Foods maintenance workers had gone without a pay rise for two years and that the company was planning to change the roster system to require workers to do extra weekend and night shifts.

Andy Richards, AMWU metals organiser for the site, was pleased with the outcome. He told Green Left Weekly that not only did the workers win their pay rise, they also won the right to be consulted and agree to any roster changes the company wants to make.

Richards praised the role played by AMWU delegate Ron Stafford, who led the dispute, and the ETU members who "stuck by the AMWU members all the way through". "This is a real victory for sticking together and great solidarity was shown between workers. I also want to thank all union members who called in to the picket, without whom we couldn't have done it."